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Hackers and Holiday Season

October 23, 2014 | By Editor 

Summary

  • In the wake of recent high-profile data breaches involving JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, and Target show people how vulnerable they are becoming when shopping online.
  • Yet, many fail to fully understand the threat landscape that lies behind the lucrative business of hacking and why the number of hackers is increasing every day.
  • With Christmas fast approaching, its associated e-commerce business will be in full swing in just few days.
  • Regardless of security systems in place in public and private sectors, hackers continue to work their way into home systems and computer networks.
  • What can people do to avoid becoming victims during the the holiday season?

Hackers

Holiday Season- Hackers Season

It is known fact that modern-day hackers are motivated by financial gain, but the question is how do they convert stolen information into money?

For stolen identities, the market is huge. A attacker may sell a bulk of stolen identities to the highest bidder who is willing to pay for any information they deem important.

Selling data, in large amounts, in the black market is the newest enterprise today.

From a solitary activity, hacking is changing into a serious business.

Earlier, we would have heard instances of waitresses stealing credit card information of some and going to hing-end shops to purchase new clothes. In such scenarios, one or two customers are affected. Well, that is history now.

Today, we are more likely to see a hack that involves millions of consumers’ credit/debit card information from a business being compromised and sold to the highest bidder.

The black market is run by an assortment of hackers. There is no “typical hacker” and the reason why it is so hard to stereotype them or identify them.

It’s not just individuals, but even companies are most vulnerable to hacking during holiday season. Online retailing is a lucrative business and is at its peak during the holiday season. And so it seems to hackers.

Unfortunately, as consumers are not privy to the defense measures a firm has and it is highly unlikely that a company would share the same, hackers would love to steal this kind of data.

For businesses that are keen to bolster their internal security, they should know what their partners are doing to protect their data.

For example, if a firm chooses an online portal, like PayPal, to process orders, then, that firm should inquire about the defense measures the portal has set for data at rest and in transit.

What can Individuals and Companies Do?

To know whether a particular website is visible to attacks, there are certain precautions for users to know if the site is vulnerable to hacks.

For example, users should trust and utilize websites that have “HTTPS,” a security protocol, in their address bar. It adds a encryption layer (SSL/TLS) for the standard HTTP.

However, sometimes even a trusted site can be hacked. Take the Heartbleed flaw of SSL/TLS, for instance. As mentioned earlier, even top retailers Target and Home Depot were hacked.

In hacking, it is not the reputation but the way information is stored is critical. The storage system is what is really vulnerable to a hack.

Consumers should check their credit/debit card statements at least twice a month. Keep a constant eye on the same during holiday season. If users recognize an unfamiliar transaction,and think there is a suspicious activity going on, the concerned firm should be notified immediately.

In order to help their users during a hack, credit card companies are required to havepolicies in place as a federal rule. It is for this reason, consumers should choose to use their credit card over debit card.

There are some people who prefer to use money to guard themselves from hackers. In a way it is a good technique to be protected from attacks but has its drawbacks in other ways. One can find returning a product difficult without a card receipt or lose money easily.

Also most credit card companies offer extended warranties or easy return policies, so consumers should utilize those benefits.

Companies should make sure that their data is well protected at rest and in transit.

Everything from credit/debit card information to emails should have a tight security policy in place, if companies wish to provide their consumers a safe and happy holiday season.

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